Here is another training gem that isn’t often utilised or well known – Myo Rep Sets.
Myo-Reps are the brainchild of a guy called Borge Fagerli from Norway.
A Myo Rep set is basically a fancy name for a specific rest-pause or cluster set training technique that involves taking a set close to the point of failure to ensure maximum muscle fibre activation, and then maintaining this muscle fibre activation over a sustained period of time by utilizing short rest breaks and multiple short “cluster” sets.
This may sound complex and indeed there could probably be an entire book written on this particular method and ways to implement this into a training programme – but I’m going to do my best to explain how to do this briefly here…..
First, in order to understand why myo reps are effective, we need to understand a few basic principles on muscle fibre activation.
Simply put – the more muscle fibres you can activate, recruit and fatigue during a set…the better the training effect will be.
This can occur a few ways:
1): Lifting a heavy weight (80% + or a weight you can do about 6-8 reps with) so that all the muscle cells are firing from the first rep.
2): Lifting a lighter weight in a fatigued state so that your muscles “think” the load is heavy.
In the most basic terms – Anytime you put forth a maximal effort, regardless of the weight on the bar, all the muscle fibers in the working muscle turn on and “tense up.” This is tension.
Get a muscle fibre to “tense up” often enough in a workout and it gets damaged and then repairs/grows back stronger during the recovery period = adaptation = GAINZ!
Your muscles don’t know how much weight they’re lifting, they only know they’re working.
-Pick a weight you can handle for about 8-20 reps with (this is a broad rep range but it depends on your programming and exercise selection…generally just try keep it at or above 8 reps at the very minimum for this method).
-Perform ONE set to failure/close to muscular failure with the weight you selected. This can be be judged by when the speed of your repetitions slows noticeably. This is your “activation set”.
-Re-Rack the weight and rest for a brief period (maximum of 30 seconds…15-20 is about right)
-Un-rack the weight and keep performing several short mini- “cluster sets” of 1-5 reps (depending on the weight used). By keeping the rest period short you will maintain fatigue level, and hence – fiber recruitment at a high rate. All reps of the mini-set are now “effective” reps.
Here is an example of what a myo rep set looks like. Let’s say this person lifts 100kg for about 10-12 reps.
Activation set: 100kg x 10-12 reps
Myo reps: rack/rest 30 secs – 3 reps – rack/rest 30 sec – 3 reps – rack/rest 30 sec….and so on.
100kg x 10-12 + 3+3+3+3….
This method may be a little different to what many are used to, but it’s a fantastic method to use if you’re someone who favour more of a “quality over quantity” approach to your training and wants to save time in the gym.
The real benefit to this method is that it allows you to maintain a high rate of muscle fibre recruitment/activation and get a lot more quality reps/volume in less time whilst managing fatigue appropriately.
As a general rule – the time it takes the average person to perform 3 sets of 10 is about 6-10 minutes. You can get a myo rep set done in about 2-3 and be done!
*A word of caution here* – this method is pretty intense and not for the faint hearted. I would recommend keeping this to a few select exercises or muscle groups you wish to put a little more work on and perform just one or two sets this way. In other words – don’t make your entire training session myo rep sets, save it for a few you want to work on. For example; if you’re working your back, you might do this on a lat pulldown then move on to some barbell rows done in a more traditional approach…etc.
While I am unable to cover the specifics of how to use this method as part of a training programme or explain in greater detail in a short blurb – if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. That’s all she wrote for now!


Jesse is a Personal Trainer at Koru Gym Bishop’s Stortford. If you are interested in training with Jesse, please contact him on 07759 258127.